by Peter Nelson
Wanaka. Back on South Island. Drowsy day. The sun not moving and the clouds so slow. The golden humming of a tiny bee droning like sleep beside you. Birdsong in the lazy drooping willows. All in the silent sun. A perfect place to stretch out on the grass. With your head in someone’s lap. As she reads to you from Alice in Wonderland. All in the golden afternoon. Return of the season of sensuality when even the earth is soft and lazy. Distant hilltops linked together with saggy green webbing and the lake slides in between them cool and silvery like an iced aperatif. In the full full blood of day. And the distance is so far away.
Lucky I’m in no hurry, ‘cause the road outside of Wanaka is known as the famous Black Hole of New Zealand, noted for the longest hitching waits in the entire country. Bored and lonely hitchers pass the time here by composing epic poems and etching them on the backs of the road signs. But I sure didn’t set any record. I was picked up after a mere 3-hour wait, and by the best of all possible rides. The guy driving was a music salesman, his van full of all the latest rock cassettes that he’s flogging to music stores and radio stations around the country. Godzilla, what luck! New tunes all the way to the west coast.
Greymouth. Transvercordolium. Reversing course on this night primeval. The gloom and soggy sneakers of day give way to this evening of velvet cloth curtains drawn by golden pull-chains across the open and opening sky. A night festive and bare-footed. And of course to fall in love on this belle bellenotte. When in smiles beside the fire she was drying her brown suedes. Me staggering beneath the cushioned impact of those epic long lashes. And such a cultured cultured voice. So we dried our shoes together which is of course a most intimate act and she speaking in these rounded tones and me barely listening, enraptured by watching those liquid vowels form deep in that brownly silken throat, how can words be so pear-shaped, silverladen, silver, laden.
Then upon this dreamsilk pillow, brought to the gathering of their desire.
“No I can’t forget tomorrow
And your face with all its sorrow,
But I guess that’s just the way the story goes.”
Saturday morning around the black-peened campfire. Rolling smokes and drinking black coffee. What a shaggy crew. A pride of haggard lions who’ve wandered onto the set of a Marlboro commercial. Waiting for the sun. The taste of her lips on his was so vivid still that it filled his whole body. Still.
Tutira, South Island. Black swans gliding past willow branches trailing through the water. And the sunlight filtered through the branches, through the leaves, through the window glass, to stretch warm across the faded brown carpet beneath the table where I write. Sunlight spreading texture across the floor emphasizes the stillness of the scene. A nature morte. Condensing, sun-motes gather in droplets running down the length of the branches, then dripping to the ground. Then twilight walking the perimeter of the lake. Frogs all gathered in one corner with this strange throaty chirr-up. A bubbly sort of purring instead of the usual croaking, as if they’re all simultaneously brushing their teeth.
A tranquil spot in which to sidestep the mainstream haste and turmoil.
Dancing with her through the room like a swirl of falling falling leaves, like that autumn years ago in the Stadtpark in Vienna with the peacocks and the coffee-flavored ice cream and Johann Strauss his statue and his waltzes fluttering through the trees twilight black against a deepening sky dancing past the swans and the children dancing through the dulcet notes through the leaves circling swirling falling.
Hamilton. NorthIsland now. Gypsy Baby and Blowtorch firing up in the plaza in the downtown park. Isn’t this spot a little public for a toke. Later, Blowtorch and me moving on down the road. Turning on with this long white cylinder passing between our smiling fingers. Collapsible stuff mayhaps. Cannot even upright stand. Heading falling over onto this welcoming shoulder wow even the trees are bent over in this town. Laughing at these parking meters, the very concept. People push pennies into this flattened piece of pipe protruding from the pavement. And all these startled looks hold me up Blowtorch yes and your fur coat too. Running up these stairs wow a long way to walk for breakfast is your hair black and red ah Blowtorch a crimson flame at the end of each ebony strand so shapeless sad and lonely belost.
An orphan of the storm. Are you.
Sturm und Drang.